The second leg of BBC Radio 1′s Hackney Weekend kicked off yesterday and i spent most of my time at the 1Xtra stage in order to secure a front row place to see Nas. As Nas was the main attraction and would be last to perform, I was prepared to battle through hours of pushing, arguing and watching acts that usually wouldn’t appeal to me.
I gave it a go and this is what happened: I got to the Hackney Marshes late and just caught the end of Sway’s set. Following that, Lethal B stormed onto the stage shouting those 3 famous words: LEAVE IT YEAH! His stage presence and other infamous comments (such as ‘two-twos now yeahhh’) made the crowd warm up to the Bizzle and vibe along. He ended his set with ‘POW’, the hit song that solidified his place in Grime history. At this point, the audience rapped along and had gun fingers in the air like it was 2004.
Maverick Sabre ‘s vocals flooded the stage with soul and calmed everybody down a notch from Lethal B’s performance. Apart from Nas, the other act I was desperate to see was Azealia Banks. She strutted onto the stage in a very risqué outfit that proved to be inconvenient to perform in; so inconvenient she ended up removing some body armour. Bearing in mind she only released one single and an EP, she created a huge buzz in the crowd, so much so everyone was singing profanities and shouting out her hit single ’212′.
Taio Cruz followed Azealie’s electric set and succeeded in bringing my mood down. His monotonous choruses literally drained the life out of me and he practically mimed his way through the entire set.
Next! Gyptian came on after Ice Prince made a brief appearance, both heating the crowd up after Taio’s mediocre set. Gyptian brought a summery, island vibe to the rain-drenched Hackney and caused a riot with ‘Hold Yuh’; people were literally falling over due to the amount of dancing going on.
B.o.B attracted a large crowd and had a very energetic set, performing his hit single ‘Airplanes’ among others. At one point he threw his vest into the crowd and I caught it, however, it got snatched away and my hand got injured in the process. C’est la vie.
Wretch 32 built on B.o.B’s energy and went full throttle with the live band ensuring that we were entertained. The set demonstrated why he is one of the most important and highly respected artists in the UK.
After a lengthy sound check, lo and behold, Nas shuffled onto stage (never on schedule but always on time. See what I did there?). I managed to secure a spot in the front row and had an unrestricted view. He opened the set with ‘Hiphop is Dead’ and showed us why he IS hip-hop. Nas performed a range of tracks from ‘Illmatic’ to his upcoming album ‘Life is Good’, ensuring that all fans from different age groups were satisfied. Each song blended into another perfectly, namely ‘Represent’ to ‘World Is Yours’, which I shamelessly rapped along to. He ended the set with ‘The Don’ and bid us adieu. Some of the audience anticipated an encore but I accepted that he was gone and left a happy woman. I managed to catch Rihanna for a few minutes with Jay-Z, however, it soon ended after fireworks were let off.
Despite ruining my shoes, going home looking like I’d been trapped in quicksand and injuring my hand, seeing Nas was worth it all. Seeing The Don/Escobar/Nasty Nas/God’s Son in the flesh made the event memorable for me. Just to put it into perspective, my post-festival chicken burger meal cost more than the festival entry; £2.50 to see a hip-hop legend was a very small price to pay. Hopefully BBC Radio 1 will host a similar event next year because this Hackney Weekend was certainly a weekend to remember.